This joint has a score ripped from a 2007 era video game and an a look to match. Afghanistan. I’m sure there’s plenty of original material left to be dredged up from the war there, but Shape-Shifters, the first of this series to care to contextualise its action within a specific culture, does not. It tells a thin story about werewolves and revenge. I’d honestly reckon your average 2007 video game would be a step up.
Sometimes you don’t need a take. Us is pretty good, the final act didn’t quite land for me in the way that it was supposed to, but the strength of the filmmaking and the sustained tension throughout that final sequence was enough to keep me through until the end. I guessed what the twist was right at the beginning, usually it’s not something I’m good at in films, and generally I try not to make a habit of it, so those final moments maybe didn’t hit me like they did some others.
It’s hard to argue with someone when they believe themselves to be a good person. Most people do I guess, but there’s some specific sort who believes that their success, or maybe their suffering — or any part of themselves they deem to be immutable — is what makes them virtuous. Maggie Gyllenhaal is The Kindergarten Teacher and she wears her vocation like a cross around her neck, returning to her New York suburb house in the evenings to a vacant husband, asshole kids, and a glass of wine.
So, Eva Melander’s Tina is a woman with this facial deformity who works customs in small Swedish port town, she displays the uncanny ability to literally sniff out those who come off the ferry smuggling contraband. When someone born with the same condition as her disembarks and volunteers to be searched, all of a sudden she doesn’t know for the first time what to make of someone. It’s an initial touch of charming magical realism. We see this woman hurry between her ailing father; a boyfriend that takes advantage of her; a world that discards her for her appearance — secure in the knowledge that, at least in her unappreciated vocation, she’s the fucking best.
The moment that Captain Marvel starts working is when Brie Larson’s hero crashes in through the roof of a Blockbuster Video. If you thought that nerd culture’s recent spate of eighties nostalgia was overbearing, just you wait. The nineties are back baby. Her first reaction to it is to blow the head off a True Lies standee. The disappearance of the video store was a great blow to the growing democratisation of culture; our local one was family owned, lived in a tiny place between the One-Stop and a chippy. They had as complete a collection of the studio Ghibli films as I think it was possible to have, the proprietor was the guy who introduced us to them.
Literally one of the first scenes in On the Basis of Sex is a love scene — as though the film wants to remind you that the octogenerian Supreme Court judge fucks. It’s got an odd structure: spending ten minutes profiling her time at Harvard Law School, ten hunting for jobs in New York, and the rest on the tax law case she takes on while a professor — her first as a future women’s rights attorney.
I think I underrated Florence Pugh when I caught Lady Macbeth back a few years ago. I think because its complicated relationship with race stood out to me so much that I kinda overlooked her central performance. There’s still tics of it that I can remember to this day, same with her bit part in that Liam Neeson train movie The Commuter. She’s gonna be in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women later this year and I cannot wait. She’s a great actor, I think she’s incredibly winning in this and once again I’m not gonna be able to talk about her much because the movie’s got a heck of a lot of other stuff going on. Her rise should be meteoric.